There are four main skills involved in learning English: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing.

Two of these skills - Speaking and Writing - are often referred to as “productive” skills , because you have to “produce” the words. They are also sometimes called “active” skills. When you write English or speak English, you can control the language use, and because you choose your words and grammar structures, you can make sure that it suits your level of English. In fact it is impossible to do otherwise!

The other two English learning skills - Reading and Listening - are referred to as “receptive” skills, because you “receive” the words as opposed to choosing them yourself. They are also sometimes called “passive skills.”

Reading English is obviously easier than English listening, because when you read English, you can go back and read again if there is something you don’t understand. But when it comes to English listening, you often only have one chance to understand, and you also need to be able to follow the content at the same speed that the speaker is speaking.

Clearly then, English listening is the most difficult of all the skills. Even the most advanced English learners need to keep working on listening skills at advanced level, and will always find that there are some phrases, or accents that they do not understand the first time they hear them. For learners at a lower level, English listening presents even more of a challenge.

So the question is – how can you improve your English listening skills to an extent where you can really follow an English conversation with native speakers?

There are many books and materials that you can buy to work on your listening. But one of the easiest ways to find good quality materials these days is online. There are so many English listening materials on the Internet that you really can take your pick of topic – far more than you ever could do with an English learning book.

But of course, as with everything on the Internet, you need to be able to decide which materials are useful for you.. As we all know, there are many possibilities to spend money and waste time online, and it’s important to avoid them.

If you decide to improve your English listening online, rather than using a book and CD, make sure that whichever method you choose offers you a free trial period so that you can fully assess the quality of the learning material before you decide to go ahead and purchase the course.

There are many free options that you can choose, but as with everything “free”, it comes at some price. This price is usually your attention, as free materials will often try to advertise something to you while you are learning. This can make it hard to concentrate on your English lesson.

Another factor to consider when looking for online English listening materials is the length of time it takes to complete each lesson. Time is precious so make sure your learning materials give you the maximum benefit in the shortest time. Try many different kinds of course and then decide on one that you can fit into your day and that you will enjoy.

Author's Bio: 

DailyStep English is place where you can improve your English speaking, listening and English pronunciation with daily audio lessons. If you will use them on daily basis then they will definitely work.